cover of miley cyrus & her dead petz

‘Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz’ Is a Forgotten Gem

Although there is definitely some filler across the record's 23 tracks, the musician's 2015 album is a daring, experimental picture of the singer's life at the time.
October 7, 2022
9 mins read

As you gaze at the cover for Miley Cyrus’ fifth studio album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz,” you will notice that the close-up image aligns with the musical content contained within. In the photograph of Cyrus, a glittery substance drips down her face, evoking feelings of intrigue, dizziness and even discomfort  — just like the music at times.

Released independently in August 2015, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” continues to stand out among Cyrus’ discography as her most daring, carefree and experimental project to date. Across 23 tracks, Cyrus yearns for a “space dude,” mourns the loss of her dog, Floyd, and voices her passion for marijuana. Because the record was released independently and contrasted starkly with her previous ones, most people are still entirely unaware of Miley’s fifth album. Despite many people’s notions of the album, hidden gems remain sprinkled throughout its contents.

“Yeah, I smoke pot / Yeah, I love peace / But I don’t give a f— / I ain’t no hippy,” belts Cyrus on the opening track, “Dooo It!” The song is an anthem for doing whatever feels good and could easily be the sonic backdrop for any crowded college party. Cyrus was only 22 years old at the time of the record’s release, so the overarching theme of rebellion makes perfect sense.

At the 2015 MTV VMAs — which Cyrus hosted — she closed the show with a memorable finale, debuting “Dooo It!” in a surprise technicolor performance alongside a crew of famous drag queens. She then announced that her new album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz,” was available to stream online for free. Cyrus’ marketing decision to release the album as a surprise is different than any of her previous releases and was likely influenced by Beyoncé, who popularized the concept of a surprise album release.

Regarding the music itself, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” is an electronic psychedelic rock journey in every sense of the phrase. Some of the songs appear as pairs, sampling one another, which occurs in “Something About Space Dude” and fan-favorite “Space Bootz.” The former is a laid-back melancholic guitar number in which Cyrus thinks out loud about someone on her mind, while the latter is Cyrus’ greatest feat on the album.

“Space Bootz” glimmers with ominous synth and booming piano noises. She reminisces about a love that has slipped away and describes how she copes with the loss: “I get so high ’cause you’re not here smoking my weed / And I get so bored / ‘Cause you’re not here to make me laugh.” All in all, Cyrus just wants her “space dude” to come back to Earth for her. The song is further enhanced if the listener takes after Cyrus and dabbles in marijuana use, which is a strong theme of the album. It seems that Cyrus intended for the album to appeal to the stoner demographic of her fanbase.

By expressing an outward interest in smoking weed across the songs in her album — and most blatantly, in “Dooo It!” — Cyrus attempts to separate herself from her Hannah Montana days, even more so than in 2013’s “Bangerz.” If that was her goal, then she succeeded; no trace of “Disney Miley” can be heard whatsoever.

“Dead Petz” isn’t just a fun record about experimental drug use though. Deep emotions are conveyed in the gut-wrenching song “The Floyd Song (Sunrise),” in which Cyrus longs for her late companion who is in dog heaven. Lines like “Death, take me with you / I don’t wanna live without my flower,” demonstrate the intensity of Cyrus’ pain in the wake of her dog’s passing. Not only does the song take inspiration from Floyd’s death, but the album gets its name from the heartbreak as well. “The Floyd Song (Sunrise)” also ranks above many of the other tracks for its deeply personal sentiments, and anyone who’s experienced loss of any kind — especially of a pet — is bound to be moved.

A lot of the lyrical content on “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” is wacky and nonsensical, making some songs almost feel like the stories found in children’s books. For example, in “Pablow The Blowfish,” Cyrus sings: “If Pablow the blowfish / found love deep in the sea / then that would mean / Pablow the blowfish / is better off than here with me.” Songs like this — including the closing track, “Twinkle Song” — add yet another layer to the album, and all the interesting dynamics culminate to provide a storybook glance into Cyrus’ psyche.

When any album has 23 songs — especially if they are each three or four minutes long — there are bound to be some less memorable tracks, and “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz” is no exception. Songs like “Tangerine,” “Tiger Dreams” and “Fweaky” all meander off the path, leaving listeners with periods of unvaried slow-burners. Thankfully, the highlights outshine the lowlights. “1 Sun,” “Milky Milky Milk,” “Cyrus Skies” and “Slab of Butter (Scorpion)” all make up for the aforementioned shortcomings.

“Slap of Butter (Scorpion)” could also perfectly fit a party setting or provide the soundtrack for a chill night in. “Cyrus Skies” wobbles with alien-like synths before reaching a climax in which Miley shouts, “There’s some kind of love / that’s so much higher,” which is the most psychedelic-sounding moment on the album. A final standout is “Lighter” — a slow, ’80s-sounding ballad in which she tells her lover: “When I need the fire / You’re always my lighter.” “Lighter,” “BB Talk” and “Dooo It!” are the only songs to receive accompanying music videos, which are trippy, eccentric and glittery, respectively.

In “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz,” a young 20-something girl tries to figure out who she is, as evidenced by her getting loud, being explicit and reminiscing about the past. According to many, Cyrus throws a fit across 23 obnoxious songs, but the album is simply the result of a former child star trying to break free from all molds. From feeling like there’s nothing she can do for a relationship, to sighing as she grapples with the loss of her “dead petz,” to literally exhaling the smoke from a joint, Cyrus continually sounds as if she’s exhaling in these songs. These expressions are sometimes voracious and other times more subdued. Though Cyrus may not continue to identify with the “Dead Petz” era of her life, the period produced some great music that remains to be the highlight of her extensive catalog.

Avery Heeringa, Columbia College Chicago

Contributing Writer

Avery Heeringa

Columbia College Chicago

Communication, Minor in Journalism

"Avery Heeringa is a senior at Columbia College Chicago studying Communication and Journalism. He’s passionate about all things music and pop culture related, and enjoys frequenting local record stores when not writing."

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